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How I Spent My Day Off

By Tim Craig

February 13, 2004 -- I went to the Maryland General Assembly this week to watch State Senate hearing on SB 288.  Since the Federal "Assault" Weapons Ban went over so badly that Congress will hopefully not renew it, the left-wingers in Maryland thought they'd commit their own "assault" weapons ban error.  However, not to be outdone by the feds, they included 45 firearms in their version of the ban, basing the criteria on the usual cosmetic nonsense.  And just for grins, the Maryland ban would outlaw guns that possess one or more of a myriad of cosmetic features. 

I had heard about this hearing from friends and fellow gun nuts.  (Yes, you can call me a gun nut; I don't have a problem with that).  The idea was to get as many of us like-minded, law abiding gun owners to show up so that we could pack the place and let the Senators see the faces of those out of whom they would be making criminals should this absurd ban pass.  So I took the day off and drove out to Annapolis.  While walking to the Miller Senate building, I was thinking, "It is such a nice day out.  I'd rather be at the range." 

I arrived at the Miller Senate building and was pleasantly surprised when I found the meeting room.  Even though I was about 15 minutes early, the place was packed.  And it was packed with our side.  I had my NRA button on, and so did many others.  Maryland gun owners, gun club members and gun dealers all showed up to support our rights.  We filled all the seats in the committee room, spilled out into the hallway and overflowed toward the main entrance.  Everywhere I looked there were people professing to be gun owners.  I saw only three people from the "gun ban" crowd, and for some strange reason they felt the need to sit on the floor in the hallway. 

The hearing began with the sponsor's quick description of the bill, urging legislators to enact it now, because the federal ban is about to expire.  Immediately after the speech, one of the pro-gun legislators asked why they were having a hearing on a bill the Governor said he would veto.  The gun grabbers responded that the Governor's veto was not a sure thing.  However, the the legislators on our side seemed rather sure of themselves leading me to think I was about to witness a good bit of grandstanding. 

I wasn't to be disappointed. 

The gun banners presented their usual arguments, including the misrepresentation that one in five police officers were being killed by "assault" weapons.  This, of course, is a lie.  The Uniform Crime Reports do not differentiate between regular rifles and what the gun banners like to call "assault" weapons.  Therefore the figure used to push the insidious "assault" weapons ban is disingenuous.

But I noticed another curious contradiction about the gun banners.  They said this effort was not about banning all guns, just the 'assault' weapons.  Yet two of the witnesses testifying on their behalf said they would ban all guns if they had their choice, and a third witness "compromised" by stating he would just ban all handguns and 'assault' weapons.  Somehow, the peaceable gun owners who showed up to watch the proceedings were not in the mood to believe that lie.. 

Next, the gun grabbers asserted this ban was about fighting criminals with 'assault' weapons.  A pro-gun Senator assured the audience that the gun grabbers had nothing to fear from law abiding citizens owning semi-automatic rifles, and got a round of applause from the chamber, which was quickly gaveled down by the hoplophobic Chairman Senator Frosh who hypocritically admonished US not to be emotional about the issue.  In the meantime the enemies of freedom continued to pound the audience with yet more emotional, fear mongering. 

Some of the gun grabbers knew so little about the guns they were trying to ban, that one particular exchange that required some firearms knowledge led Senator Jacobs to comment, "I'll ask someone who knows."  These people tried to assure us this ban would not take away our hunting rifles, and yet they fail to realize that the Second Amendment is not about hunting. 

Gun banner "testimony" ended with one of the "Million" Misguided Mommies, who wanted to know why we were so adamant about keeping our guns.  Well, if she had to ask...  However, she was invited to stay and hear the opposition's testimony, which would provide her with a satisfactory answer to her query, but she declined.  Imagine that.

When it was our side's turn to testify against the Maryland "Assault" Weapons Ban, we dealt our opposition two devastating blows from the beginning.  Both the Maryland State Police and the Maryland Fraternal Order of Police testified against the ban.  Maryland State Police had statistics that indicated  'assault' weapons are not a problem in the state.  And while the proponents of the ban tried their best to change the subject, including hauling out the well-beaten "bazookas on the streets" strawman, the Maryland State Police stuck to their guns and insisted they opposed the bill before them today. 

Other experts testified about the true nature of semi-automatic guns.  One testified that the M1 Garand, the M1A1, and the AR-15 were the top three rifles used by competitive shooters.  Another exchange lead to an informal poll, asking for a show of hands:  how many people actually used semi-automatic weapons in hunting?  Numerous hands in the room and in the hallway shot up.  Yet another witness pointed out that some of the weapons included in the Maryland ban were not even being produced anymore, and that the Uzi, a weapon often feared by the gun banners, is illegal to import by federal law. 

One by one, the anti-gun arguments went down in flames.  In the end, the gun grabbers resorted to their old tricks of emotionalism and rhetoric during a heated exchange between a Baltimore gun dealer and a Baltimore Senator.  The Senator angrily hurled bigoted slurs, calling gun dealers "merchants of death" and blaming them for gun violence in Maryland.  The gun dealer calmly replied that he was engaged in legal commerce.  I wondered quietly if the Senator holds General Motors responsible for drunk driving fatalities.

According to the Baltimore Sun, the committee is evenly divided between those opposing the ban and those supporting it.  Out of the eleven on the committee, five senators want to implement the ban, while five oppose it.  The only Senator on the fence is Senator John Gianetti.  Please give him a call and tell him to oppose the Maryland "Assault" Weapons Ban.  He can be reached at 1-800-492-7122 ext. 3141 or you can email him at: .

NOTE:  The toll free telephone number listed above is only good for the Maryland area.  The Senator's other numbers are as follows:
(410) 841-3141
(301) 858-3141

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Reporters today are far removed from America's founding values and are alarmed and contemptuous of gun owners as dangerous lower classes. HENRY ALLEN, WASHINGTON POST

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